Castle the kings of Dublin 15

by James Hendicott

Castleknock swatted aside their most local rivals St Brigid’s in the Dublin Senior Football Championship at Parnell Park on Saturday afternoon, ensuring both their progression and their rivals elimination in the process.

An emphatic scoreline of 1-16 to 0-7 emphasised the gap that has opened up between this pair, as well as Castleknock’s increasingly well-touted defensive prowess.

Brigid’s have traditionally been a Dublin powerhouse with Knock one of the county’s youngest clubs but the class of Ciaran Kilkenny and the strength of the men in blue and yellow’s well-drilled backline made for a comfortable afternoon.

In fact, Castleknock look, if anything, stronger than the side that shocked Dublin football’s top tier in charging through to a maiden senior final in 2016, though Brigid’s will point to the absence of star forward Paddy Andrews in mitigation.

Things looked very different in the early stages. Castleknock conceded a few frees as Brigid’s started strongly with Lorcan McCarthy kicking three to put Brigid’s in front.

It took until midway through the half for Castleknock to wrestle control that would later seem to come so easily. Kilkenny, wearing 14, got hold of a perfectly placed crossfield ball by a marauding Thomas McDaniels, which he smashed home almost nonchalantly to grab a 1-1 to 0-3 lead.

It was one-way traffic from then until half time. Kilkenny had another goal scoring chance but chipped over. Rob Shaw hit a fantastic point from a crowded midfield and Kilkenny added a rare free.

The Somerton side looked like they were at shooting practise at times and while John O’Loughlin was able to hit a strong point at the other end, Brigid’s had conceded seven points with only one in reply in the lead up to half time and looked cooked at 1-8 to 0-4.

The sunny conditions made for excellent football, and Castleknock continued to take advantage as they stifled Brigid’s and pushed on themselves.

Shortly after half time, Ben Galvin could have put the tie to bed but saw his effort clawed out by Shane Supple. Kilkenny could also have had another and Brigid’s briefly won the chance to get back into the contest, only for Morven Connolly to get down low to his right and save Philip Ryan’s penalty.

That was the end of the game as a contest, though, and Castleknock set about building a total while Ryan compounded his penalty miss with a straight red card for an off-the-ball skirmish.

Castleknock’s 1-16 to 0-7 win – a contest in which Brigid’s, astonishingly, managed only a single point from play – should be read as a statement of intent to their senior rivals.

Group 4 had been dubbed the ‘group of death’ ahead of the Senior Championship’s new format, yet this result and Ballymun Kickhams’ win over Clontarf the previous day ensure its over as a contest before the final round of games.

Both Castleknock and Kickhams look likely to go deep into the early autumn; their battle for group 4 supremacy is a tasty proposition.

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